By: Leslie Kelly

Sheepish, she murmured, “Sorry, Uncle...?”

“Damien.” He extended his hand to hers. “I’m Damien Black.”

He waited for any sign of recognition, such as dollar signs rolling in her eyeballs—he’d certainly experienced that before. But he saw nothing in her eyes but that same wary interest, as if she was trying to decide whether she could trust anyone with a Y chromosome.

Or maybe she was wondering if she could trust herself?

If she’d been, as she said, “playing” good girl...who was she when she wasn’t playing?

Hmm. He’d like to find out. He only hoped she decided to give him the chance.

Finally, after a long, breathless moment during which his heart started pounding with anticipation, she took his hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you, Damien. I’m Viv Callahan. And if you can have a gin and tonic in my hand within thirty minutes, I might just revise my opinion of the male species.”


VIV HAD BEEN a good girl for a long time.

She didn’t just mean the nine weeks she’d been employed by the Virginia Vanguard. Even before that, she’d been steering clear of men, though she’d never come clean to her friends about why. They knew she’d been bothered by her breakup with her ex, Dale, last spring. They didn’t know she’d actually been heartbroken, however.

It seemed as though the real Viv had been in hibernation ever since. But this guy, a complete stranger who in ten minutes had shown her more courtesy than any of her coworkers had in months, called to every wicked, suppressed instinct she owned.

As they walked together, side by side, out of the garage, she couldn’t help casting surreptitious glances at him. Under the bright, late-afternoon sunshine, his black hair gleamed luxuriously, like a sleek cat’s. His profile was incredibly masculine—the cheeks sharply cut, the jaw square, the nose strong without being overbearing, the brows thick over dark, chocolate-brown eyes.

Having been surrounded by beefy, brawny, self-important meatheads who’d been harassing her for weeks, she found his tall, lean-but-powerful body incredibly attractive. The tailored suit couldn’t disguise his broad shoulders, strong arms, slim waist and hips and long legs. Absolutely delicious.

Vixen Viv, who’d been in hiding since being so badly burned, began to awaken within her.

Damien was gorgeous, sexy, unattached and interested. Judging by the clothes and where he was staying, he was probably a successful businessman visiting the DC area. Not being a local, he wouldn’t be sticking around. That was just perfect, since she was in no mood to even think about anything serious. She hadn’t been kidding when she’d told her friends she wanted some cock without complications. He could give her the one while letting her avoid the other. Win-win.

She had nothing to lose and no longer had a job to worry about holding on to. If she tried, she could seduce him into bed and not leave it until next week.

Besides, she was sick of allowing herself to live a life based on what one rotten man had done to her. If she’d told herself a year ago that a guy could hurt her so badly she’d give up men—and sex—for months, she’d have laughed.

Damien Black might end all that. He could help her shake off the unaccustomed insecurity she’d been experiencing since Dale had shattered her self-confidence.

She just had to make him want to.

Seeing a crack in the sidewalk, she edged closer to him, not wanting to trip. She also wanted to feel the brush of his sleeve against her arm, to catch a whiff of his spicy cologne.

“Watch your step.” He put a hand against the small of her back as they reached the jagged crack in the cobblestone.

“Thanks,” she murmured, not pulling away once they’d passed it. His hand stayed where it was, too, a fiery brand on her spine that she felt through her blouse and jacket. She didn’t mind the possessiveness of it, because it was simple and noncontrolling. He made no effort to manhandle her, but the power of the touch reached her on a deep, visceral level.

It had been a long time since she’d given up control in a sexual relationship, and she sensed by the power this man exuded, as easily as he wore his designer suit, that he was used to being in control. Having a man take what he wanted—as that ignorant hockey player had done yesterday—infuriated her. But letting him take over, now, that was a totally different story.

The thought made her shiver with naughty anticipation.

They were heading toward the ritzy new Black Star Hotel, which was on the opposite side of the garage from the high-rise where she worked.